And now welcome to the first edition of our year end reviews. First up we have the ten best songs of the year. These range from hip hop, indie rock, pop and whatever else stood out to me this year. Enjoy!
10.TYLER THE CREATOR:
NEW MAGIC WAND, IGOR
I’ve had plenty of problems with Tyler’s off the stage language over the years, but we’ve gotten to a point where you can’t ignore his success in creating hip hop that’s both honest and jubilant. “NEW MAGIC WAND” sees a man reaching out for love, even when he’s aware he’s being a little too extra. The beats jingle in a way that signals a life of playing the triangle in a school band, but out of nowhere a siren like sound fills the backing mix and the track gets much darker, both in tempo and in the delivery of the vocals. It’s scratchy, more like Tyler’s early records. It also delves deep into what he’s capable of, which in this case means marrying the grime of his past with the maturity and education he’s received during the last few years of his ever increasingly friendly sound. If you want to call it that.
9. THOM YORKE:
DAWN CHORUS, ANIMA
Leave it to Mr. Yorke to make one of the most fascinating songs that you’ll want to weep your eyes out to for years to come. “Dawn Chorus,” is a pinnacle in remembrance of misery; the depth and gravity hit you as soon as the pulsating dark beats emanated over the speakers. It’s sobering in a way no one except Nick Cave has managed to be in recent years, and this time it’s all Thom’s. It’s staggering to witness in concert, and it’s even better for a night time drive, appreciating what you have and not what you’ve lost. It’s a longer track, right at five minutes, yet it feels almost too fast. That’s the secret quality of Yorke and his various products. He has a niche that’s perfect for what he’s trying to do, and every now and then he pulls you away in a bear hug and breaks down your nature to rubble.
8. LOCAL NATIVES
WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU, VIOLET STREET
Up until this song I’ve never really given them a chance, but finally in 2019 my wife started showing interest and, well, she was right. This song is a beautiful if not troublesome track about the realities of living as part of a relationship and how it can be tricky to navigate. “When am I...” is a reminder of the trials but it’s melodic rhythm and the way the vocals struggle out make it more real to me. The end is pretty and nostalgic, like a partner laying in an empty bed remembering the beautiful moments. It’s beautifully romantic, but also honest.
7. CHARLY BLISS:
YOUNG ENOUGH, YOUNG ENOUGH
This was the year that a little band from Brooklyn, on the road supporting their brilliant sophomore release would wake up the indie scene to what could be done well, even if the success is rare. As Charly Bliss, Eva Hendricks and her brother Sam have seen a huge year cross their plates, and in large volumes it’s due to impactful songs like the title track “Young Enough.” It has that classic build budding at the surface. Eva’s voice is clear and deliberate as she waxes poetic about the joys, heartbreak, and optimism that make being in your early 20’s so special. It’s ridiculous in its honesty, and for that reason it’s been a must listen for me throughout the year. It soars at the precise moment it needs to during its five minutes, but it never lets you go.
6. DENZEL CURRY:
SHAKE 88, ZUU
Maybe not the biggest track of the year, but it’s very likely the banger if the year for me. It’s become my almost home from work song over the past year and it’s even better if you have plans you’re headed to. Curry is a monster as an M.C. and the beats are some of the dopest I’ve heard in the last few years. It’s honest, raunchy as fuck, and care free, like all good hip hop should be. There’s a time and a place for everything, and if it’s a party it has to be Denzel Curry. It’s a guaranteed booty shaker as it was meant, and it still hasn’t gotten lame for me.
I’M FULL, NOTHING HAPPENS
I’ve listened to this song maybe 100 times or more this year, and while I still can’t figure out exactly what it’s about, it’s wonderful in every way. From the early release to the vocals, to the drum hits, everything works. At face value it seems like a track regarding drug use, but I think it might be about bettering yourself. Sometimes things are going to be totally fine. Weathering the storm, not overindulging (this is implied by the title) are all important. Musically though they over indulge and make a successful rock anthem that I haven’t reacted to like this in years. It reminds of the carefree days, I could walk around in shorts and a t-shirt and not care. Being in the sunlight, trying to relax and get on track, because “I’m Full.” Dylan’s voice is serendipitous and tangoes at the same time, but by the end you’re flying high through the clouds as the song becomes a celebration of forgiveness.
SEE YOU AT YOUR FUNERAL, MORBID STUFF
Man what a year for these guys. This song, I just can’t escape it. It’s so fucked in the literal content of how this person feels, but it’s heavily realistic in how you feel after a serious breakup. The chords and the vocals especially are biting and forceful. It’s one of the things that works best. The hurt pouring out from the author is clear. He wants this person to fail so it proves him right. It fits perfectly with the theme of deaths throughout the entire record (more on that later). The segment that begins with “I hope somehow I never see you again, or if i do it’s at your funeral,” are some of the most deeply honest feelings I’ve ever heard, and the way they’re delivered are even more intense. I’ve felt those exact feelings, and it sucks and I’m sorry for everyone who has to go through that. But in the end it ultimately makes the song more profound.
JUICE, CUZ I LOVE YOU
You really couldn’t make this list and not at least include this. As I mentioned earlier, this was a huge year for fabulous ladies, and our first female in the top three is the queen of positivity imagery, Lizzo, and the literal smash “Juice.” It’s sassy in a way few artists are able to perfect, but the Houston diva seems to do it whether or not she’s getting attention. She’s solid in who she is as a person, and it’s another great reminder of the importance of a strong woman. She’s just a great role model for bigger ladies who feel inadequate in a shitty world that can’t seem to accept them. Either way, Lizzo redefines what it means to be positive, and I hope it continues.
2. BILLIE EILISH:
YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO?
This was a hard one. All of the songs how do you pick the best? She’s had such an insane year, and at least till this point she hasn’t betrayed her early style and gone more poppy and clean. I was telling my wife recently that she made me think of that person we know and we’re attracted to, but we can’t really say why. You know what I mean. The song is a trap door of emotion and mockery. The opening is doom laden in a way most “mainstream” songs aren’t, but it’s that contrast that makes it stand out even more. Much has been made of her age, and this industry is devastating at times, so I hope she remains who she is, and never compromises. She has the ability and I believe the smarts to pull it off. At the very least she should keep making songs that portray women as fierce creatures who deserve a spot.
1. SHARON VAN ETTEN
SEVENTEEN, REMIND ME TOMORROW
I was driving home from a friends house early this year and Sirius was debuting the song all weekend, since her record had just come out, and it captured me immediately. Again it’s a song of remembrance. But it’s also about watching the future you grow up and tackle the big issues of life. It’s vulnerable, and at some points broken in agony, but I think at its core it’s about longing for the simpler days that are considered childhood. This is Van Etten's most personal song to date, and it’s telling that it’s garnered as much success and praise as it has. It’s a rollercoaster with Etten’s voice at the forefront. The breakdown towards the end is epic and thick with worriedness and fear. As I drove and took the song in I knew it was something special. I’ve taken many drives since, singing those same words, and for all those reasons, it’s the best song Of the year for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. We’ll return in a few days with the best shows of the year and of course closing it out with the top 29 albums!
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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